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Updated: Wednesday, December 31, 2003 12:21 AM EST
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(20) Syracuse 87, Canisius 70

SYRACUSE, New York (Ticker) -- Billy Edelin had a big game, but his coach was upset with his big men.

Edelin scored a career-high 28 points and just missed a triple-double to compensate for a poor performance by No. 20 Syracuse's centers in an 87-70 victory over intrastate patsy Canisius.

The Orangemen (8-1) have won eight in a row overall and 17 straight from Canisius dating to February 15, 1975. But with the defending national champions days away from the teeth of their schedule, Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim is unhappy with their progress.

"We have a long ways to go," he said. "We're going to struggle we're going to have our ups and downs. We have a lot of weaknesses. We have a lot of work ahead of us just to be respectable. We're miles away from where we need to be."

Boeheim is most disappointed with centers Craig Forth and Jeremy McNeil, who combined for no points and seven rebounds in 25 minutes against the overmatched Golden Griffins (4-7).

"I was very disappointed in our inside play tonight," Boeheim said. "I can't tell you how discouraging it is for our centers not to be better than they are at this stage."

Edelin picked up the slack. A 6-4 sophomore who is third on the team in scoring at 13.1 points per game, he eclipsed his previous high of 26 set last season at Notre Dame.

"Last year's game had more meaning because we clinched the Big East," Edelin said. "But I'd have to say as far as the numbers go, this was my best game. I'm just feeling more and more comfortable and tonight I let things come to me."

Edelin penetrated at will, making 14-of-17 shots while handing out nine assists and grabbing nine rebounds. He did not attempt a 3-pointer and missed all three of his free throws.

"Edelin was the X factor tonight," Canisius coach Mike MacDonald said. "He hit some tough shots. The only thing he didn't do was make his free throws. Maybe we should have fouled him more."

Syracuse found itself in a surprising 23-18 hole with 8 1/2 minutes left in the first half before taking the lead for good with a 15-0 burst. Edelin made three straight baskets, then capped it at 33-23 with a reverse layup at the 5:18 mark.

"Billy was the difference in the game," Boeheim said. "When he gets in the lane, he's as good a finisher as there is. They kind of let Billy get going."

The Golden Griffins still trailed just 43-42 after a layup by DeWitt Doss 80 seconds into the second half. In a 9-0 spurt, Edelin had a pair of hoops before Gerry McNamara drilled a 3-pointer for a 52-42 lead with 15:53 remaining.

Syracuse led by at least five points thereafter. McNamara scored 21 points and Hakim Warrick added 19 and nine boards.

Kevin Downey scored 16 points and Doss added 15 for Canisius, which has lost four in a row.

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